CONFERENCE IN YEREVAN FOCUSES ON ADOLESCENT HEALTH
YEREVAN, 12 July 2011 – Policy makers, health experts and practitioners as well as adolescents and young people gathered today in Yerevan to discuss challenges, options and opportunities for strengthening and improving health and other services for school-age children and adolescents in Armenia.
“Adolescence is a time of opportunity, but also one of risk. It presents a window of opportunity to set the stage for healthy and productive adulthood and to reduce the likelihood of problems in the years that lie ahead. At the same time, it is a period of risk: a period when health problems that have serious immediate consequences can occur or when problem behaviours that could have serious adverse effects on health in the future are initiated”, UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri said.
WHO estimates that young people account for 15% of the disease and injury burden worldwide, and more than 1 million die each year, mainly from preventable causes; over one-third of the disease burden and almost 60% of premature deaths among adults can be linked to behaviours or conditions that were initiated or occurred during adolescence, for example, tobacco and alcohol use, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and risky sex and sexual abuse.
In 2010 UNICEF Armenia Office supported the implementation of two studies in the area of adolescent health. Both studies revealed a number of problems that include, among others, lack of coordination among key sectors in addressing adolescents’ issues and inappropriate attention to this age group’s needs, particularly in the area of health provision, insufficient knowledge and skills among health professionals in provision of counselling and referral, and lack of a supportive environment for realization of adolescents’ rights, especially the right to health and development, at family and community level.
UNICEF Representative emphasized that addressing adolescent issues requires a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach that will take into account not only adolescents’ physical health, but also their personal, social, emotional and mental development. “It is therefore imperative that the health sector, having a crucial role to play, involves a range of actors, including other social sectors, international and non-governmental organizations, and children themselves.”
At the end of the conference participants will agree on a set of actions that will outline further steps to improve adolescent health and provision of services to them.